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The Commemoration of the Fallen
25th September 1921



The Methlick War Memorial
and (right) the  Moir family grave.

Photos provided courtesy of Susan Bain - a grand-niece of
Captain Moir.

On the afternoon of Sunday 25th September 1921, two commemoration services were conducted in the small Buchan community of Methlick –described by one contemporary observer as “the picturesque Ythanside village …nestling amid rich sylvan glories”.    

At three pm the Methlick War Memorial was unveiled by the Earl of Haddo, on a plot of land on the village green that was granted to the village by the Earl for that purpose.  It followed a service in the Parish Church, at which the Moir memorial tablet (see below) was dedicated.

A newspaper of the time reported “Nothing could have been more impressive than the scene in the pleasant village, nestling so quietly in the howe among the trees.  About 1000 people including about 50 ex-servicemen… from the Methlick district attended both services.”  [Note: as is often the way of newspaper reports the numbers in attendance varied from 100 in the Aberdeen Journal to 1000 in the both the Free Press and the Peoples’ Journal.]

The memorial is an obelisk of Kenmay granite, designed by Aberdeen architect George Watt, and referred to in contemporary accounts as “of simple yet tasteful design”, while in current reports it is seen as  “a plain, rather severe rectangular monument …”. (Aberdeenshire Council Sites and Monuments Records).   It is about 15 feet high but set on a mound which gives it a total height from the ground of about 20 feet. It is enclosed by an “attractively designed dwarf wall surmounted by an iron railing”.

On the front of the memorial are the inscriptions – “Erected in grateful remembrance of the men connected with the district who fell in the Great War 1914 – 18” and “Lest we forget”.  On panels on three sides are inscribed the names of the 46 men of the district who died. [However see the details of the Moir plaque below for a 47th name.]

The Moir Tablet
The Moir memorial tablet in the church is of brass set in an oak frame, and bears all the names which appear on the parish memorial with one additional name, that of John Buchan.  Pte John Buchan, No. 79362 31st Battalion Canadian Infantry (Alberta Regt), was the 28 year son of John & Mary Buchan, Woodside Cottage, Haddo House, Methlick. He enlisted on 18th November 1914 and died of wounds on 28th November 1915.  Why he was omitted from the memorial is unknown.

 The plaque had been erected immediately behind the pulpit.  As one of the newspaper quoted “It is of peculiar significance that the name of the donor of the tablet – the late Capt. George A.C. Moir – appears on the list of names.  Before leaving for the front Capt. Moir, in his last will, expressed a desire that such a tablet should be erected to commemorate the men of the parish, and he himself fell in action on 7th April 1917”.

The inscriptions on the tablet are:- “1914 – 1919 – To the glory of God, and in memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives in the Great War”,  and “Faithful unto Death”, while on the frame at the bottom “This memorial was bequeathed by the late Capt. George Andrew Christie Moir, Glencairn, Methlick, who fell in action on 7th April 1917”

Master George Lumsden Moir, the four and a half year old son of the late Capt. Moir, unveiled the tablet.

Following the church service the crowd reassembled at the memorial site, to the strains of the hauntingly beautiful “Land O’ the Leal":

I'm wearin' awa', John
Like snaw-wreaths in thaw, John,
I'm wearin' awa'
To the land o' the leal.
There 's nae sorrow there, John,
There's neither cauld nor care, John,
The day is aye fair
In the land o' the leal.

As was usual at such events at this time, Lord Haddo spoke of sacrifices for God, King and country, of glorious death and of splendid sacrifice, but he also remarked that the phrase “Lest We Forget” should apply equally to those who had returned, claiming it was the duty of every person who was in a position to do so, to employ an ex-serviceman.

The service closed with “God save the King” and the laying of wreaths at the foot of the memorial.


 Peterhead War Memorial

Sources and acknowledgements:

Aberdeen Journal 26th Set 1921
Aberdeen Free Press 26th Sept 1921
People’s Journal 1st October 1921

My thanks go to Susan Bain for providing the photographs and the additional information on her great-uncle, Captain Moir and also David Catto, Local Studies Librarian, Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service for supplying the newspaper articles. As always my thanks go to Anne Park, researcher, and volunteer at the Gordon Highlanders' Museum for generously sharing her knowledge.

See Susan Bain's Methlick website

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Carolyn Morrisey